What led you to choose this career?

I always enjoyed science, especially chemistry, and was looking for a career that would allow me to interact with people and patients daily.

What interested you in working for Cleveland Clinic?

The resources for learning are incredible. Additionally, the uniquely complex patient population leads to a focus on interdisciplinary teamwork which is extremely rewarding.

What physical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in this career?

As the pharmacotherapy expert on the medical team, attention to detail is vital to ensure medications are used safely. Additionally, a lot of problem-solving is involved – this can range from clinical skills such as determining dosages with limited data available to logistical things such as how to administer multiple IV medications with limited IV access or finding a cost-affordable option for outpatient. Teamwork and the ability to work well with others are other important skills as your expertise is only a piece of the puzzle of the interdisciplinary team.

What excites you about this career field?

There is a constantly growing number of medications on the market, and they are increasingly complex. This opens a large number of opportunities for pharmacists to get involved from logistical to clinical management and use optimization. There is also a large amount of ongoing research, such as in pharmacogenomics testing, that may change the way we evaluate patients before initiating medication. There is a unique opportunity for pharmacists to be involved in designing how we can best incorporate this information into practice.

What has been your most gratifying experience in this profession?

The most gratifying experience is when I can make a long-term difference for a patient. For me, this has been when I have identified a patient who was using a medication incorrectly at home resulting in hospitalization, and then being able to work with the patient and team to figure out something that to work for everyone.

What career options are there for this profession?

Pharmacists work in all different areas of healthcare. The community pharmacist, who works in dispensing drug stores, is the image most people have of pharmacists. While this is certainly a cornerstone of the profession, there are many more opportunities. Pharmacists specialize in different practice areas and work in the inpatient setting or see patients in outpatient clinics and help to manage their medications. You can also find pharmacists working in research, specialty pharmacy, insurance, and leadership and management.

What is something others may not know about this career field? What are some common misconceptions?

Many people do not know that pharmacists go to school for 6-8 years after high school and receive a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Additionally, a growing number of pharmacists now go on to complete 1-2 years of residency or fellowship training. Another one of the most common misconceptions is that all pharmacists work in a typical dispensing drug store. While many do, there are a huge number of other opportunities. If you have an interest in areas many people don't realize are related, such as research or even management some pharmacists work in that area too.

What is the #1 piece of advice you would give to interested students?

Talk to a pharmacist at your local pharmacy, reach out to the educational programs at a local hospital, or to a college of pharmacy to get connected. The best way to understand if a career path is right for you is to learn about all the potential opportunities! This also can help you tailor your journey through school toward the area(s) of practice that aligns most closely with your goals to best prepare you for your future career.

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